That Bittersweet moment…

It’s that time of year again, where you have to pack you bags, move out, and do something productive with your summer.

For most college students, summer break is almost here. It’s such a bittersweet moment. On one hand you’re saying bye to all your friends for the summer, but on the other hand you get to look forward to graduation parties, vacations on the beach, and just plain old relaxation. The only one thing that annoys me about summer break is the moving out part. Those that live on campus have to clean everything (and cross their fingers that they haven’t damaged any part of the room) and move out, but then in three months, pack up everything, and move in again. Its just so much work.

Nonetheless, the images of sipping iced tea by the pool, or going on road trips with family and friends, or sitting on the porch and reading a book, or just relaxing on the couch, makes everything better. The last few days (right now) are the toughest, because you are just 1 or 2 exams away from going home. The struggle to study is real.

The important thing about summer vacation is to make sure that it is productive. Make sure that you spend the time wisely. Whether it be internships, research, summer classes, work, or learning a new skill, make sure that you are doing something at all times. It’s really easy to loose yourself and just be a lazy bum and watch TV all day. Therefore, take this time to reorganize your life, after a hectic year of school.

To all the seniors that have graduated, CONGRATS! Wish you all the best on your journey towards changing the future.

Now, to all the high school graduates and transfer students that have just committed to UMBC or to any college for that matter, WELCOME to higher education! Please use your break to learn more about the campus, make connections, and solidify your future/career goals. You have infinite opportunities in front of you so make the best of it! Oh, and also get ready for the many all-nighters, coffee runs, challenging 8:30 am classes, and a little bit of partying. In all honesty, get ready for the best (and most stressful) years of your life.

That’s all the post for this semester, have a GREAT SUMMER BREAK EVERYONE!

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Food on Wheels

Can we talk about these food trucks that have been on campus lately? Normally there’s one cupcake truck that comes on one random day in the middle of the semester, but this semester there’s been a number of trucks on the Commons Loop.

I worked in Washington D.C. last summer off of K-street near Franklin Park, so I’m pretty in love with food trucks. Granted, UMBC isn’t sporting Amorini Panini and Korean taco truck, but Baltimore’s trucks seem to have their own flair.

The event on myUMBC said that it was hosted by UMBC Dining Services. It’s kind of nice that UMBC Dining Services are willing to bring in other foods to campus besides what is already here.

It’s clear that UMBC listens to when students want something. So make sure to find out when Kooper’s Burger Wagon, Slante on Wheels, and Icedgems will be on campus next!

Block Party

Two weeks ago, Resident Student Association, threw their annual Block Party event.

Block party is a carnival style event, with cotton candy, face painting, shaved ice, various types of games, food, and much more. During block party, each residential community sets up their own table and provides a game for everyone to participate in. This years theme was nautical, so everyone did some “sea” related. For example, Erickson Hall did organized a sand art table, where people came and decorated small bottles shaped like sand castles with different colored sand. Also, Walker Apartment did a boat sailing competition. Other halls did caramel apples, t-shirt/sock tie dye, and throwing darts at paint balls. Basically it was a afternoon/evening filled with a lot of fun.

Everyone, including, the RSA executive board, the Community Councils, and the advisers, put in a lot of hard work to make this event really big. However, the only problem was that there was a lack of advertising, therefore, not a lot of students were aware that Block Party was happening. Nonetheless, there were a lot of people that came and enjoyed themselves; the cotton candy and the caramel apples were a great hit!

Furthermore, there was a BBQ style dinner at True Grits. There was hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, black bean burgers, potato salad, and dessert.

Block Party was an event to bring together all the communities and most of the residential students in order to allow an evening of socialization. Like all other RSA events, this event was designed to strength the connections between all the communities in order to better  Residential Life. It was really fun and exciting to help organize, decorate, and take part in this great event.

To all prospective, and incoming students, if you want to be more involved in residential life and throw events like this and help advocate for residential students, then don’t hesitate to join the RSA!!

My Guide to Studying Abroad: Packing

Recently someone asked me for advice on the logistics of study abroad. I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain during the Fall 2014 semester. I studied history, worked on my Spanish and traveled to Belgium, Morocco and Portugal in addition. Because I am history major, it is my nature to do lots of research before nearly anything I do, study abroad was no different. I am happy to share what I did about phones and money and other logistics while abroad with you, in case you are preparing for study abroad either now or in the future. I will share my suggestions based on about 3 months of research preparation. Having been returned from my time abroad, I am happy to say that in all of these things I was successful and I never lost (or had stolen -) a single thing!

Note: all of these suggestions are made with the idea that you want to save the most amount of money. If money is not an issue for you, lucky you!

PACKING:

In all the travel blogs and any talk online about studying abroad, I am sure you will see how much people love to talk about packing. Everyone has their own thoughts on the best way to be cost, space and weight efficient. I suggest you look up all these various ways to be so and choose the one that you think will best suit you. I travel quite a bit, so have a routine for packing and what I know I NEED to take. However, I had never packed for such a long period of time before and I wish I had done things a little differently. If you have ever been to Europe you know that there is cobblestone EVERYWHERE. If you didn’t know that before and are going there, remember that important point. I want to use this as an example for context in traveling. If you will be traveling a bit you do not want to be carrying giant or 3 suitcases on cobblestone, up stairs or in mud. When I arrived in Europe, the first hotel I stayed at did not have an elevator or a handicap way to get into the hotel. I carried my giant suitcase up quite a few stairs and was sweating by the end. Perhaps where you are going has cobblestone that will tear your suitcase, perhaps they don’t have elevators, perhaps you will have to walk a while with your suitcase in order to get to your destination, perhaps you are going somewhere where you will get to drive up to front entrance and someone takes your suitcase to your room for you. Be prepared for anything. If you are going to a place you have never been before, do not expect conditions to be the same as they are in the USA. I saw girls who had brought 3 giant suitcases and were struggling whenever we had to go from one place to the next and carrying them up the stairs. I only had one giant suitcase but I still felt I had brought too much. Literally, you feel the weight of your decisions. Be sure you can carry your suitcases on your own and try not to take more than 1 suitcase. You can always purchase another to bring back with gifts for all your friends and family. Things to consider are storage of your suitcases while living there, weight, allowance and being able to move the suitcase yourself. I suggest packing a week before then rolling your case around to make sure you can handle it. If it’s too heavy TAKE THINGS OUT. Below is a vague outline of my thoughts on what to pack .

THINGS I DON’T REGRET PACKING:

  • Medication I needed, enough for the entire time I was gone. If you take any medications regularly, be sure to talk to your insurance provider and doctor well in advance to have enough medication for your time out of the country.
  • Contacts and travel toiletries (enough for 1 week, until I had time to buy toiletries there). Do research on where you are going – are toiletries something you can buy there? It won’t be your favorite brand, but immerse yourself in the culture. Maybe you will find something even better there, I did.
  • Really comfortable and cute shoes
  • Unique things from home, like my pillow. I love my pillow.

THINGS I REGRET PACKING:

  • Enough clothing for all the seasons I thought I would experience. Do not think you know the climate of a place you have never been. You can read about it, think you understand, but I really think it is something that has to be experienced. And once experienced, if you find you need a coat there will be a store that caters to that environment where you are. I took a winter coat because I knew I would be there for winter and I never wore it. I didn’t need it. Winter there, although similar temperatures just feels different. I wish I had just taken clothing for the current season and bought more clothing there.
  • Too many clothes in general.
  • Books (real ones). I didn’t have a tablet when I went on my trip, but I do now. I have been a long time supporter of hard copy books. I have a giant bookshelf in my bedroom and I love it. But books are heavy and take up space. I bought a tablet to save space and money on my next trip. I will now be e-reading.

THINGS I WISH I HAD PACKED:

  • I don’t believe in wearing sweatpants in public, but I love a lazy day in sweat pants. I didn’t pack them because I knew I wouldn’t be wearing them often, but it turns out I missed them quite a lot. It’s one of those little comforts that I missed from home and would definitely take them next time.
  • A nice camera. I don’t own a camera. I have always just used my iphone, it takes nice enough photos and is easy to use. But, after all the marvelous things I saw, I realized the importance to me of sharing those memories with friends and family. With a nice camera, I know now the sharing of my experiences would be much better.
  • Old Bay – no explanation needed.

UMBC’s New Student Day

UMBC New Student Day 2015 (April 11th) was a great success!!! So many admitted students showed up, the crowd was marvelous!

Admitted students got the chance to walk around campus, and get a feel for the UMBC environment and culture, before they make their decision to join UMBC. Also, admitted students got the chance to meet and communicate with students and professors from different majors, per-professional programs, and organizations all over campus. The day was filled with fun facts, and various reasons why UMBC is simply the BEST!

One of the organizations that I want to vouch for is the Resident Student Association. The RSA is a organization comprised of the residential student body, who advocates for on-campus students, and creates interesting events for everyone to socialize and enjoy. Furthermore, joining RSA gives you the gateway to from connections with people in Residential Life, who can boost your applications to become Residential Assistants, and Desk Staffers, and write recommendations for you.

Now…back to the New Student Day. This was a great opportunity for students to get used to a particular environment, and learn some of the important information, including information about majors/minors/certificate programs, class size, student teacher ratio, tuition, living on campus, resources such as career center, tutorial centers, writing center, etc., social vs. academic life, transportation, and etc. Moreover, out of state students got the chance to stay overnight on Friday (April 10th) in the residential buildings, which furthered their great vibes for UMBC. By obtaining all this information from different schools, allows you to make an informed decision, so that you don’t have to constantly transfer from one school to another.

Furthermore, for those who could not make it on Saturday, please visit the campus during the week day (even if you already went on a tour) to get a feel for campus.

And for everyone that has been admitted to UMBC, hope to see you here in the fall! Also, please call the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, at 410-455-2292, if you have any questions or comments!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Did you know that every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted? Or that 1 in every 5 college women experience a sexual assault?

It’s very clear that sexual assault is a major problem in the U.S. for many people. UMBC does not take this issue lightly. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and UMBC is filling the calendar with events for students!

Take Back the Night, an event that is common on college campuses, will start on 6:00pm on Thursday, April 16th on the Commons Main Street. I’ve been to a couple of these vigils in my days and they are always wonderful events. UMBC’s Take Back the Night will feature an information fair, as well as a survivor speak-out. This event allows survivors and supporters to convene together in hope, resilience, and cohesiveness.

Check out this link for a complete list of all the events and opportunities for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There are tons of opportunities to learn how to prevent sexual assault, what to do to report, and how to support survivors.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UMBC is sponsored by the Women’s Center, University Health Services Health Education, and Voices Against Violence.

UMBC Theater Students Thrive

From March 26 to March 29, the UMBC Theater Department performed “These Shining Lives”, by Melanie Marnich. Now that the show has passed and I won’t be spoiling it for anyone who wants to see it by talking about it.

I’ve seen a number of UMBC Theater Department shows and this was one of my favorites. The show featured a small cast of seven with UMBC student Martha Robichaud as the lead.

“These Shining Lives” chronicles the life of Catherine Donahue in the early 1900’s as she starts work at the Radium Dial Clock Company is Ottawa, Illinois as a painter of clock faces using radium. Catherine builds a family of other women at the clock company, while her husband reluctantly supports her working.

Eventually, it becomes very clear that the women of Radium Dial have been poisoned by the radium. After years of grueling court cases, appeals, and social isolation, while suffering immensely from the debilitating sickness of radium poisoning, the women win a legal battle against Radium Dial. Fairly soon after winning, Catherine Donahue dies.

The story was beautifully written and the actors portrayed their characters extremely well. They even sported tasteful Chicago accents. It’s clear why UMBC’s Theater Department is often praised.

Check out “Leah’s Dybbuk” on April 30-May 3, 2015 to see the Theater Department in their next production!

What is important to you?

My boss gave a speech recently and he mentioned that after asking current students why they had selected a certain college and why, they shared that the reasons they had chosen a school then and today would be very different. They explained that what they thought was important in picking a university was actually not as a student at a university. I find this idea to be absolutely true for me. When graduating high school, it may be difficult to understand the importance of finding a school that will help you to get a job, but it is actually one of the most important things to consider in making a school decision. When deciding on a school, I really thought deciding which school culture would provide the best social experience for the next four years of my life. I wanted to be happy for the next four years of my life. My thinking in the beginning of the process was that I needed a school that had all the things that could make me happy during my four years of college.

I was wrong, and I am so glad. Now, as a graduating senior with a job after graduation, I look back at my years at UMBC and know it provided me with absolutely everything I needed to be successful for the rest of my life. UMBC was not my first choice. I chose UMBC for financial reasons, and am so happy that that is the way it turned out. In the beginning, I thought because UMBC may not be able to provide things like a rock wall or a football team that my four years at school might be less fun because those are the the kind of things I was told would make college fun. They are not. Anywhere you go, there will be a group of people like you, who enjoy doing the fun things you do. I know though now that UMBC has been the best choice in the way of providing me with excellent resources to achieve an paid internship each summer, and now a full time job offer for after graduation. Things like the career center, excellent professor mentorship, volunteer experience on campus, and rigorous coursework have prepared me for graduation, work life and beyond. I thought I just wanted to make sure college was the best 4 years of my life, but now I know with the resources and skills UMBC provided me my best years won’t be limited to my college years, but will last for the rest of my life.

Tips for Deciding on a College/University

Hey everyone! Since it’s that time of year, when high school seniors have to commit to a college/university (UMBC’s deadline is May 4th), I thought I would post some tips. Getting accepted into college can be both exciting and frustrating; for some it can completely change the way of life. I too had to go through this process, not long ago. So, here are some things to consider before making the final decision.

1) Make sure the particular college has your intended major! Not all colleges offer the same majors, therefore it is really important to make sure that you will be able to study things that you are interested in. UMBC has 44 majors, 41 minors, and 20 certificate programs that encompass all kinds of subjects. Also, there is Interdisciplinary Studies, which allows a student to make their own major. So, basically, you can combine different classes that you are interested in and major in something unique.

2) Find a college that is affordable. Even though you have an option for taking loans, (I believe) that it’s not very wise to take a lot of loans during your undergrad career. Moreover, out of state universities tend to cost a bit more than in state universities, which can be really annoying at times. Hence, make sure to compare all your scholarships and grants!

3) Once you have shortened your list to a couple universities, try to visit them again. For example, UMBC has a New Student Day Program (April 11th, 9:30 am to 3 pm), where new students can learn more about the campus, as well as meet faculty and students from different majors and organizations! This way you get a feel for campus as an accepted student which will make it easier for you to make a decision.

4) Make sure you communicate! This is the single most important tip I have. If you are not sure about something, make sure you call the undergrad admissions offices to clear all your confusion. Even if you think you have a simple question, JUST ASK! It doesn’t hurt to ask it allows you to make informed decisions. Also, make sure you talk to your parents/guardian, counselor, friend, or some one you trust about your future and what your plans are, it will make life that much more easier.

That’s all I the tips I have for now. Hope I’ve helped in some way. I wish all accepted students good luck, and hope to see all of you in the fall!

Welcome to the beginning of a new and exciting adventure in your life!

My Guide to Study Abroad : Phones

Recently someone asked me for advice on the logistics of study abroad. I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain during the Fall 2014 semester. I studied history, worked on my Spanish and traveled to Belgium, Morocco and Portugal in addition. Because I am history major, it is my nature to do lots of research before nearly anything I do, study abroad was no different. I am happy to share what I did about phones and money and other logistics while abroad with you, in case you are preparing for study abroad either now or in the future. I will share my suggestions based on about 3 months of research preparation. Having been returned from my time abroad, I am happy to say that in all of these things I was successful and I never lost (or had stolen -) a single thing!

I will be doing these blogs in parts. This first one will be about phones.

Note: all of these suggestions are made with the idea that you want to save the most amount of money. If money is not an issue for you, lucky you!

PHONE:
Here in the USA, we are so connected all the time to our devices. Depending on where you study, this may not be the case or perhaps more so. Either way, you will need a way to keep in touch with friends/family back home and a way to make plans with all your new friends. It was important to me to be able to talk to my family on a regular basis, just in case I would need to. So, before I left I asked my family to download Viber. It is an app that uses data or wifi to make phone calls and send texts nationally or internationally. I decided to download this app over others because unlike others, it is free and unlimited. The voice calls do have a computer sounding tone to the calls. It does not sound like your usual phone call, but it is definitely clear and usable. Using an app to make phone calls is much cheaper than making international phone calls, every time.

Luckily, my closest friends and family agreed to download the app and I was able to talk to them without any issues. Many of my other friends who I wanted to keep in touch with, I would text using imessage. Again, luckily most of my friends have iphones, but for those who didn’t I would facebook message and it was never an issue. Texting this way versus an international phone plan is always cheaper as well. The international phone plans add up very quickly. I just had to change my habits and there was never a time I could not get in touch with someone I wanted to. When I arrived in Spain, I realized very quickly many people there use the app Whatsapp to communicate rather than send texts. I downloaded the app almost immediately and used to it to communicate with my host mom and friends. For both of these apps I used my american phone number to activate that way I could use my contacts from my american phone and add any new Spanish phone contacts.

I used these apps on my own phone. I have an iphone that is globally prepared, so all I had to do was purchase a Spanish sim card. You can look up a youtube video on how to change a sim card using a paperclip and it’s easy to do. I recommend this if the country you are going to is a place where many people have iphones, otherwise it may be a target for theft. In Spain iphones are not as popular as they are here, but they are not unusual to see. I purchased an Spanish sim card from realcom. The program that I went with had a special deal with them that allowed for no contract fee, month to month pay as you go and unlimited data. This means that my phone bills were almost $0 each month, because I was paying no contract fee and I was using just the apps with free unlimited data. The only issue I had with this was plan was that any data or calls or texts used outside of Spain cost more. So, when I traveled outside the country, which was usually just for a weekend. I tried to limit my usage to when I had free wifi. There is not as much free wifi other places as here in the USA, but it is possible to find places. There is an app for that too! Some of my friends only ever used wifi even in Spain. This is very doable if you only want to use your phone to check in every now and then. I only used my data if it was an emergency. Even in cities I had never been to before, directions were easy because I would download maps online first or pull up the city on google maps before I lost connection. The map is still active after you have lost connection, if you pull it up when you have data or wifi.

If you do use your own phone, be sure to have insurance on the phone in case anything happens. If this is something you are concerned about, maybe it is better to get a cheap phone that comes with a plan in which it is easy to replace while you are abroad. In the end, you just need to choose the best choice for you. Feel free to ask any questions. I know it can be a scary time, but it is way more exciting (I think).